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Stainless steel as a green material

Rick Edwards - 20 October 2016

100% recyclability, minimal CO2 emissions, long lifespan and low maintenance of stainless steel are major contributors to its green credentials.

About the author

Mr Rick Edwards
Rick Edwards is Global Director at Cougartron, an international brand which specialises in stainless steel surface treatments.

We are living in a time when going ‘green’ and being as sustainable with our energy resources as possible has become a dire necessity. Although major industries in the world still rely on fossil fuels to power their operations, the winds of change have swept across the globe in recent times and more people are turning their attention towards production materials and techniques that are environment-friendly. As far as the materials are concerned, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest: stainless steel.

Since stainless steel is often associated with heavy-duty applications such as automobile exteriors, we involuntarily make the assumption that the formation of stainless steel and its uses have a negative impact on the surrounding environment and ecology. In other words, it is quite difficult for us to conceptualize the idea of stainless steel as an eco-friendly material that can play a major role in man’s endeavours to put the brakes on the climate change juggernaut.

Companies that are seriously interested in protecting the nature and not causing damage to the environment can use stainless steel in a number of different applications without having to worry about any repercussions. So what exactly makes stainless steel a better choice and a green alloy? Why should environment-conscious factory and business owners put their faith in stainless steel over other materials? Well, the answer to these questions can be summed up by the following reasons.

100% recyclable

Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel can be recycled completely. As a matter of fact, about half of all the stainless steel materials that are in use today have been sourced from scrap materials. A single piece of stainless steel can be recycled an infinite number of times without it losing its key properties such as strength and corrosion resistance. It is also worth noting that, with the notable exception of austenitic grades, all stainless steel have magnetic properties, allowing them to be easily separated from the recycling stream.

Minimal CO2 emissions

When you stack stainless steel up against other materials and compare their CO2 emissions, you will be surprised to know that, overall, stainless steel production does not emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide. In fact, its carbon footprint is much smaller than that of aluminium and magnesium which are among the more harmful products when it comes to damaging the environment and defiling Mother Nature.

Long lifespan and low maintenance

There is hardly any doubt in the minds of experts that stainless steel is one of the most durable and long-lasting substances in the world. Much of its impeccable durability and endurance can be owed to its incredible corrosion resistance. Since stainless steel can last for decades, if not centuries, it earns the right to be called a green alloy simply based on its longevity. It is also worth noting that stainless steel is among the most hygienic materials in the world and requires minimal use of cleaning agents to be properly maintained.

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